In a strategic press release issued this afternoon, UberX says it has roughly 900 “active drivers” in Seattle. This marks the first time the company has shared such information, and, of course, the number is well above the 150 active driver limit that would be placed on the company if the City Council passes its rideshare and for-hire regulations as expected this month.
The release - which was sent out by Gallatin Public Affairs, the PR company Uber hired specifically for the rideshare fight in Seattle - goes on to say that “The number of drivers active on uberX at any one time regularly exceeds 300 and that number continues to grow to meet demand.”
Obviously released now to drive home the contention that the City Council’s proposed regulations would effectively squash rideshare startups in Seattle - which Uber, Lyft and SideCar have all claimed - the release states that, “The way the legislation is currently written, the ability to earn an income will be taken away from over 600 drivers on the uberX system alone. They will likely lose their small businesses.”
“It remains our position that caps on drivers have nothing to do with safety. We are only now releasing these driver numbers to illustrate to the Council that this legislation will kill ridesharing as we know it,” Uber’s Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger says in the release. “In the face of steady or increasing taxi revenues, the Council is still choosing protect the taxi industry over the tens of thousands of their constituents who have called on them to remove the caps.”
The release also invites Council members and members of the media “to meet with them in person to review” the company’s insurance policy, though no new details on the policy are divulged. According to Uber, the policy remains “proprietary,” which is why they won’t share it publicly.
Meanwhile, it was announced today that the City Council’s expected March 10 final vote on the proposed rideshare regulations has been postponed until March 17. The reason for the delay? One member of the Council will be travelling, and thus “unable to participate” in a March 10 vote.
No word on whether said Council member will be using UberX to get to and from the airport.
UPDATE: Shortly after publishing this piece I was contacted by Erin Simpson, a spokesperson for Lyft. She tells Seattle Weekly that “More than 1000 drivers have gone through the safety approval process to join the Lyft platform.”
“Many of these local residents drive with Lyft on their way to work, while they are running errands, or on the weekends to make ends meet,” Simpson continues. “The cap that Seattle city leaders want to enforce will restrict the number of Lyft drivers allowed on the road at any given time to 150 total. The cap will prevent these drivers from being able to use Lyft, especially during times when passengers who have chosen to live car-free in Seattle need them most.”